Friday, December 31, 2010

guinness floats

Yesterday brought two new taste adventures -- one was pho, the second was a Guinness ice cream float. One right after the other.

Here's the making of the floats. We made them in place of birthday cake for a non-cake-loving birthday girl. And root beer was also available. And chocolate ice cream.

 grate chocolate, any chocolate

 dip the rim of the glass in chocolate sauce, then into the grated chocolate,
put the glasses in the freezer until it's time

 new best friends, guinness and haagen-dazs vanilla

happy birthday to jonni
happy new year to all

Thursday, December 30, 2010

good vibes greencraft

Until the whole world started using the Gregorian calendar, nearly every country and/or religion had their own New Year, the term used for the first day of a year. It took some of them a long time to come around, too -- I looked it up and Thailand held out until 1941. And if you think that most of the New Years from those regional calendars fell around this time of year, that's not the case. New Year could land on pretty much any day in any month of any season, depending on whose New Year it was.

I'm feeling like this is a good time for a New Year. And I want to send out some good vibes!

greencraft: new year prayer flag
We usually have at least one Tibetan prayer flag hanging somewhere in the garden. The way it works is prayers of good will to all -- peace, wisdom, strength, love, etc. -- have already been printed on each flag and as the weather disintegrates the cloth, the prayers are carried by the wind out into the world to be fulfilled. Actually, it's quite a bit more involved than this, but you get the idea. They are purposely made of lightweight fabric and usually last about a year for us. This is a way to make a no-cost, more meaningful maybe, prayer flag from stash for the New Year.

items needed: any color lightweight cotton fabric (the older the cloth, the better), paint or markers, cotton string - or - tear & join long narrow strips of fabric, needle & thread

how to: tear fabric into flag strips (about 2"x8") and/or flag squares (any size you'd like but a 6-8" square is a nice size). Decorate with a simple drawing or painting and/or write a few words to convey your prayers, wishes, and hopes for the New Year. Fold the top edge over the string or long strip of fabric and sew, by hand is fine. Then hang in a place exposed to the elements.

I think I will take it slow and spend the next week or so making this. It would also be revealing to make this a family activity to see what emerges. Last night I lit a candle and made my first prayer.

                                                                                                               peace on earth

Also posted at Ohdeedoh. See finished prayer flags here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

food and love

It has taken scientists until the twentieth century to prove what we've known since time out of mind: that we are all connected.
Agnes Baker Pilgrim, Takilma Grandmother (We'Moon 2010)

I've been feeling the Libra energy and how we're all in this together . . .

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

whose names i know

                                                                                                                      solstice eggs

These beautiful duck and chicken eggs were a gift from a wondrous woman. She even knows the ducks that laid the eggs. I think that I will always remember these, our first duck eggs ever . . . and from just a few miles away, imagine that.

We don't have chickens, ducks, goats, or bees. We've had pet cats, dogs, rabbits, and goldfish. I would like to make another stretch toward greater self-reliance but I'm not sure if livestock would be the right direction for us -- we live near a creek that runs from the mountains right into the city and the area has foxes, raccoons, and coyotes not to mention predator birds. A nearby park has a warning sign up for coyotes and some have lost their animal companions to the food chain.

The garden is bountiful and honestly last summer we bought very little in the way of fruits and vegetables to supplement what was homegrown. Most of the herbs that we use for food and medicine are also pretty easily grown here on our city lot. I know if I really apply myself, more of everything can be grown so that more can be canned, dried, tinctured, infused or frozen. But we do eat eggs, honey, milk, and cheese, too, and there are people here in the city who've figured out how to produce them.

So, like my friend, I am beginning to source as much food as I can from people whose names and addresses I know. And maybe even know their animals' names, too.

Amazing homegrown and/or homemade Yule food gifts from more wondrous people -- Christmas Nut-Roll Bread, Mediterranean Spice Blend, and Cinnamon Applesauce. Each is received to be eaten in a place of deep gratitude.

I hope you are well-nourished on this winter day.

Monday, December 27, 2010

let it be

                                                                                                         lucia moon

Stitching needles on blue spruce limbs. Uh-oh, realized there's some yellow snow there. Must be moonbeams.

On this day ruled by the moon, moonday, we find ourselves with a waning quarter moon in the neutral sign of Libra. This last quarter of Luna's cycle is the best time to let it go, let it die, let it rest, and let it be. It's not only a relief to do this but it creates space for something new and wonderful to emerge.

Being Libra represents fairness and balance, it's also a nice couple of days in which a cooperative spirit allows us to more easily let go of judgments, opinions, and past disagreements -- the energy of "feeling the love" creates a rebalancing of sort. Libra days affect the kidneys, bladder and hips -- make sure you drink enough water, sometimes inflammation and a brewing infection can simply be flushed out with an adequate amount of fluid. Herbs taken for an existing urinary infection may be more successful with Libra's influence. The hips represent stability and balance both physically and otherwise. I suspect that when the mind and soul become more balanced, minor hip problems could possibly self-correct. As always, remember that while this is a good time for healing these body parts, it is also the time that they are more easily affected in an adverse way.

Let it be and be well.

P.S. I have these all over my house and highly recommend them for basic information.
                                                                                                                                                                     moon calendar

Saturday, December 25, 2010

a lovely day

                                                                                                       benjamin & benita

A shoemaker's elf stopped by last night.

Wishing you a lovely day however you spend it -- see you Monday.

Friday, December 24, 2010

maybe tonight?

                                                                                                        benita and benjamin dolls

The shoemaker's elves didn't come by with their knitting needles last night. Maybe tonight?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

curtains were made

Last night I made snowflake curtains. Always in motion, so dreamy. So beautiful.

I first saw these here.  It took a few nights of cutting out snowflakes, probably around 30 of various sizes, and about 10 minutes of machine sewing, if that -- and two more minutes to tie them on a tension rod. Such a cool, easy project!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

lucia moon cloth

how lucia moon began . . .
lucia day morning

lucia day dusk

I wondered how lucia day dusk would affect the cloth. I wanted to honor its beauty and to somehow let the universe know that I "got it" without getting too literal.

lucia moon pinned and ready to stitch.

This is what has unfolded. These are real Colorado blue spruces in the front yard -- most would think they're planted too close together. But then too -- some would think they're perfect. Maybe take that cloud off -- what do you think? 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


                                                                                                                      winter solstice

The Winter Solstice marks the return of light in the Northern Hemisphere; in a few days' time we'll begin to notice the change. Many traditions celebrate the symbolic connection between Nature's light and our inner light. While we need darkness to see a tiny spark of new light, this project is all about nurturing those sparks -- creativity, health, abundance, or other possibilities ready to be born --and then tending the flame.

spiritcraft: candle visioning
credit for this craft is shared with the mystery circle with whom I have cut and glued for many, many moons and then some . . .

Candle visioning is basically the same process as making a vision board, a treasure map, or an abundance collage. Use this idea as a springboard. It can be a solitary activity or a family/group undertaking. I see it as a way of retrieving new things from within at the beginning of something -- of a new season or year, a new semester, or even a new blend of people in a campus or social change group.  It can be focused on a particular hope or loaded with an assortment of wishes and possibilities. Everytime the candle is lit, we are reminded of, thereby strengthening, the possibilities it holds.                    

When my children were younger, we decorated one pillar candle with beeswax shapes and then lit it every night at dinnertime. Along that same idea, now that they're adults, I'm mulling over when and how we can candle vision together using a larger pillar candle. In the past when we've been together on New Year's Day, we've gone around the circle and made a wish for the person to the left. But I think we're never too old for a new family ritual!

items needed -- Either a pillar candle* at least 3" in diameter or a straight-sided glass cylinder (or jar) that will hold a tealight or votive, magazines, scissors, glue or mod-podge

instructions -- Quiet your mind . . . then begin to page through the magazines and cut out everything you feel drawn to. Go for words, pictures and colors that appeal to you--don't judge--you probably won't use all of it in the end anyway. When you have accumulated a small pile, begin to glue the clippings onto the candle or the glass cylinder. You will know when you're done. Apply a finish coat of mod-podge to smooth it all out. Light the candle often thoughout the coming year.

*A paper sleeve for the candle or glass cylinder allows you to work on a flat surface. Measure and cut lightweight paper (tracing paper or translucent vellum would be best for a glass cylinder so that candlelight shows through) adding a few inches for overlap, then glue the clippings onto the paper instead.

Monday, December 20, 2010

the moon is a different thing to each of us

                                                                                                                      spiral of time

The moon is a different thing to each of us.
Frank Borman, Apollo VIII Astronaut 12/24/68

Seeing the moon pretty much always excites me. I mean really. I just want to say to anyone and everyone, "how 'bout that moon?" I can't wrap my brain around why people aren't looking up and pointing at a beautiful crescent taking form or a swollen gibbous moon looking like it's going to birth a star any second. Or why we don't hear about it on the news, as part of the weather report at the very least -- what stage it's in, how close to Earth it is, and other details about the positions of the surrounding stars. Why don't we use it to mark time anymore like "my last hot flash was three moons ago" or "plant pepper seeds two moons from now?"  When did moons become months? Just when did we leave behind the old way of traveling the spiral of time guided by the moon? I want it back.

This moonday, we see a nearly full moon in the sign of Gemini with no less than eight significant aspects occurring. When a waxing moon is in Gemini, it's a good time to take care of the shoulders, arms, and hands. We should also be careful not to strain those same parts. Avoid carrying heavy loads like the boxes of Yule decorations up from the basement, or those heavy packages that are magically appearing on everyone's front porch. Standing under the showerhead set on a massage feature would be great today. A shoulder rub will feel extra good. Protect your hands today by wearing gloves whether you're gardening on a sunny warm day in the Southern Hemisphere or outside shoveling snow in the Northern Hemisphere. Also, we carry a lot of stress in our shoulders, and heavens forbid, if you catch yourself with clenched fists, that's a definite sign to have a tea time-out with a relaxing herbal tea like chamomile, oatstraw, or lemon balm.

This moon will give birth tomorrow and people are noticing it -- maybe change is afoot! We expect the safe delivery of the return of Light, a full moon, a lunar eclipse, a move into the sign of Cancer, and probably aspects and manifestations galore. I sort of know how the moon feels. Years ago, I was in the same condition -- one of my labors began late on Solstice Eve and I gave birth on Solstice Day.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


yule craft: sew double-duty wrapping

Mailing Yule gifts can be a process. Or any gift for that matter. You need to wrap them once in gift wrapping. Then you need to wrap them again, or package them, to be mailed. This way gets it all done in one wrapping. One side is for mailing, then flip it over to go under the tree. Sew double-duty.

     under-the-tree side (l) -- flip it over -- mailing side (r)

                                                           address label for mailing

gift label for giving

ho-ho-ho, ready to go

 Basic instructions for sewing up a book-size package: Find a paper bag like you did a few days ago, cut along one side to open. Measure your item and add 1 3/4" - 2" to all sides. These are the measurements to mark for your sewing lines. Cut outside of the sewing lines by about an inch (two sheets for each package). To decorate the gift side, cut shapes out of scrap paper and zig-zag them on. Then with right sides out, zig-zag or straight stitch on the sewing lines around three sides, insert the item, and stitch the remaining side. Trim the edges with pinking shears. Put a gift label on the decorated side and a postal label on the mailing side.

See you Moonday!



yule craft: little tree
This little tree was made a few years ago out of felted wool, stuffed with wool, and beaded with pearls. That pattern by Stephanie Congdon Barnes is no longer available (that I could find), and I wanted to make more so I drew up a new one for myself. What's that saying -- necessity is the mother of invention? And I wanted to stuff this one with fragrant dried herbs rather than wool so it could be a sachet as well as pretty cute to look at.

Trace and cut out an 8 1/2" and a 3" diameter circle for the pattern.

         Now fold the larger circle in half.


And again!

Mark off and cut out three sections of the total eight. This is your pattern. Actually, you can make two patterns out of one circle.

Using felted wool or wool felt (this is a deconstructed thrifted skirt), pin & cut out the pieces.

Match the straight edges, right sides together, and sew as close to the edge as you can. Right sides together again, pin the smaller circle to the base of the cone. Pinning close together, along with the give of the wool, makes this step easier than you'd think. Sew around the base as close to the edge as you can leaving about 2" to turn right-side out.

Spoon dried rose petals into the tree -- stuff it nice and full. These are Gertrude Jekyl rose petals from my garden but you could use any fragrant dried plant material. Lemon verbena would be very nice. Or lavender. Or all three mixed together is a pleasant sleeping/dream blend.

                                                                                pearl & rosy

Sew up the opening. Decorate with whatever and however you'd like. Rosy here is randomly beaded with rose quartz beads -- both the pearls and the rose quartz beads are from a yard sale. This one will be a Yule gift but I plan on making more -- including one for my nightstand!

P.S. If you plan on making this as a gift, keep it in an airtight plastic bag until the big day to hold the fragrance longer.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


                                                                                                                "all is well"

We are entering the darkest of days here in the Northern Hemisphere. Candlelight is at its best now. I am drawn to light, creamy colors at the very time that all those reds, greens, silvers & golds are being so pushy and trying to have their way with my house. And many of them succeed. But these candles in their creamy cozies calm me. When I light them, all is well.

yule craft: sweater candle cozies

Partially deconstruct an old or thrifted sweater: Cut about 8" off the arms or whatever length you'll need for your container -- figure the height plus half the diameter. This sweater had cuffed arms so the arms were super long. I haven't used the neck piece yet but the body of this sweater will soon be a pillow.

Stitch around the cut edge of the cozy to keep from unraveling. If it doesn't look like it'll unravel, don't bother (that cut edge stays hidden under the bottom of the container anyway).

You are done!

Find a glass cylinder, vase, or jar and pour in a little sand or some dried beans. Snuggle a candle in. Slip the cozy on. Sweater knit s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s and the more it stretches, the more the candlelight will shine through.

You can cuff the top edge.

Or not!

All is well.

Come back tomorrow for a tutorial on making a different version of this little wool tree.

This project was included in Whip Up's latest newsletter here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

elder cloth

                                                                   orange marigold dye-bath

This is the second piece that went into the orange marigold dye-bath -- another square of white silk but this time it was sprinkled with freshly picked elderberries from the Mother Elder in the back garden. Otherwise the same procedure as here was followed. What beautiful colors Sambucus and Tagetes make together!

                                                                                                   dyed and dried

While ironing with a hot dry iron, the most amazing thing happened -- flowers mysteriously appeared right before my eyes. Plant magic, for sure.


Monet-like yellow flowers . . . iris, daffodil, or hollyhock? See the centers of the blooms?

I'm anxious to find a use for this beautiful cloth. Thank you, Mother Elder . . .

Monday, December 13, 2010

with moon in hand

                                                          st. lucia's day light returning, moon rising

Over the last week, these little cloth moons have been cut, washed, frayed, ironed, scrunched up, and ironed again. They've been pinned, unpinned, repositioned, and repinned many times -- probably in the double digits by now. Same with the layered background of washed dark blue velvet and blue/purple rayon from stash, and a strip of marigold-dyed silk -- finally ending up like this with a dark night sky and a light foreground, maybe snow-covered. The moon will rise over the middle layer -- water or mountains, haven't decided yet. But the piece will tell me. I choose to not perceive this as obsession but rather reflection.

This little 11"x11" square is for the moon quilt and I feel like it already holds the essence of the December moon. It began to take form (around the new moon) when I started following the wisewoman of cloth, Spirit Cloth, as she made holiday cloths. Hopefully, I can name its magic by the time of the full moon.

Today being St. Lucia's Day may have some bearing on the future name. Light returning, moon rising. And my grandmother's name, too -- Lucia. Hmmm.

This nice, new Moonday is the first quarter moon in the sign of Pisces. Each phase of the moon is a quarter, whether waxing or waning, and today the moon has waxed to the half-way point and appears as a perfect half moon in tonight's sky. If you're lucky enough to have clear skies, that is.  We're about a week away now from the next full moon which will be a glorious day with all kinds of celestial events occurring.

As the moon grows closer to complete fullness, its effects on people are thought to intensify. Realize that if the moon's gravitational force is strong enough to cause our oceans to literally bulge out towards it (high tide), it has to affect all of us as well! Now is when you may feel your body holding water and a little extra weight. This is the right time to slow down, build up your strength, nourish and nurture yourself. Any new moon wishes that you've made are also strengthening and growing toward manifestation.

Pisces energy affects our feet. A waxing moon in Pisces turns out to be a good time to slow down and spend some time taking care of your feet -- applying a nice lotion or oil, wearing favorite shoes and socks, taking a foot bath, and/or having a foot massage. Can you think of any other ways to nurture your feet?

With moon in hand, I will now begin to baste.

Friday, December 10, 2010

a picture is worth a thousand words

I've always been amazed at how alive freshly-picked produce seems when I wash it. Usually I swish it around in a stainless steel bowl of cool tap water in the kitchen sink. Whether it's broccoli, radishes, or greens, it glimmers and glows and there is a definite sense of life or spirit. Always had a feeling that produce from the grocer was quite different but until I did this cool little experiment, I wasn't sure.

The kale on the left is minutes from my garden. The kale on the right is from Whole Foods. They look like the same variety although my garden kale leaves are much smaller. The leaves were placed in this water and a picture taken with my little Sony Cyber-shot. No more, no less.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I'll say no more.

                                                                garden kale (l) and grocery kale (r)

thousand words kale
Slice 1/2 to 1 whole onion and saute slowly in olive oil until it begins to carmelize a little. Add 2 chopped cloves of garlic. Saute a few minutes more.

While the onion is cooking, toast your pecans at 325 degrees for about 5-7 minutes. When you begin to smell the aroma of the pecans, they're perfectly toasted.

Add a hefty bunch of loosely chopped kale leaves from which the stems have been removed. Saute slowly until nearly tender.

At this point, I usually remove everything from the pan, set it aside, and begin to prepare the protein, usually marinated chicken breasts or sausage. When there is still about 5 minutes of cooking time left for the protein, add the kale mixture back to the pan and cover until the protein is done. At the last minute, add a handful of toasted pecans and a handful of dried cranberries or any dried fruit. Season to your taste.

This is my favorite kale recipe. I'd love to know yours? See you Monday, have a nice weekend.

(Also posted at Food Renegade and Western Gardeners.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

grounding in strange places

I visited in North Dakota last week. I have a hard time grounding in strange places. Also, sleeping in strange places. One causes the other.

For grounding, knitting helped. For sleeping, a glass of wine.

Handspun wool, large needles, and an easy pattern were just what I needed. This took less than an hour, I'm sure, but I tried to stretch it out over 3 nights to have a little something to do while I drank the wine.

                                                                                                 daughter #2           

It's pretty loosely knit with this handspun -- more for looks than warmth, I think. The pattern is from here. Haven't decided if I'll frog it or not . . .

P.S.  Frog comes from "rip-it, rip-it"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


yule craft: I'm definitely not proud of our pile of Whole Foods paper bags. But it's OK because they are the perfect weight to sew gifts into. Yes, you read that right. And they have handles. The fun of this greencraft is that you can use bags or sheets of paper right out of your recycling bin and you don't need any tape or glue, just a sewing machine -- although it would be doable with needle, thread, and strong fingers, one of which wears a thimble. Or holes could be punched and yarn woven in and out. There'd be lots of ways to do this if a person thought about it long enough.

Cut down one side of the paper bag. Place the right sides together matching the bag handles. Draw yourself lines as a guide to sew on. Cut about an inch around the outside of the lines.

            Zig-zag or straight stitch to make a new, much cuter bag. Trim edges.

Newspaper can replace the ubiquitous tissue paper. An easy tie made with twine strung with paper circles can be the closure. This bag can be used many times. Notice how the light changed -- the sun came out for a minute!

For a one-time use, just sew straight across the top of the bag, decorating however you like. This way, it'll need to be torn or cut open, but the gift will be totally secure. Sun went back under the clouds, just FYI. And make sure the gift is inside the bag before you sew it closed . . . which is what I just didn't do . . . go here for another way to use this idea!

Also posted at Whip Up -- a fabulous site with ideas, books and a new 2011 calendar! Thanks, Kathreen, for showing my project. And an Apartment Therapy site, Ohdeedoh. And see what Julie did here!